Back in the days when Ron was still occupying his meat body, he encouraged people to write to him.
He proclaimed many times — “all mail addressed to me shall be received by me.” This was what he called the “SO #1 Line.”
Here is just one example of him pitching this:
Even as late as 1982, when he was in hiding, he was still pushing this, and making a point that some SP (“now blown”) had implied he was not seeing the letters sent to him. “I almost wept.”
This is all bs.
He never read or answered these letters. In fact, he said the REAL reason for the “SO #1” line is a “detection” line (this is an excerpt from HCOPL 22 Feb 1965 Executive Director Comm Lines):
There was always a unit of people who took the mail that came in for him and answered them and signed “Ron” at the bottom. They were called the “SO#1 Unit.”
Hubbard was provided a summary of good vs bad (“entheta”) and that was it. He didnt see the letters themselves. But the pretense that he read the mail that came in was maintained.
Someone recently sent me an old “SO #1” letter, which is what brought this subject up.
It’s a doozie.
“Ron” is telling Nancy Rusnack (who was at one time the ED of Buffalo org — not sure if it was at the time she got this letter) that he has researched more than 30 OT Levels so he is “not officially classified on the chart” — that is he is far above the top of the Grade chart. And this was in 1977.
A whole lot more bs. And this was written by someone else! They certainly got his braggadocio down.
Funny how all his incredible OTness didn’t prevent him from heart attacks, strokes and pancreatitis.
And that these 30 OT levels have never materialized.
Par for the course for promises from Ron — even when someone else made the promises on his behalf….
My brother worked in the SO#1 Unit back around 1983, at Flag. He was only 16 yrs old, and had little to no Scientology training or auditing. When we joined the SO, our recruiter both promised that we would get help to complete our educations. When when we arrived in CW, that never happened. My little brother really needed to be getting an education, making friends, improving his communications skills, etc. but instead, he was put on this super specialized post in the Sea Org, part of the SO# 1 Unit, and he put in charge of the “Ron” signature stamp. He spent his days stamping Ron’s signature on all the letters that Ron was not actually reading, and doing filing etc. My brother had been let in on this big secret that Ron was not really reading anyone’s letters, and my brother was sworn to secrecy about it, even from other SO Members. My brother felt alone and isolated, didn’t really have anything he could talk about to anyone, as he had no personal life outside of his job, and he was basically taught how important it was to LIE to people to accomplish “the greatest good”. This adversely influenced his life greatly. He does not complain about this publicly and probably never will. But as his sister, I can tell you, that it was extremely abusive emotionally to him back then for his SO superiors to have taken advantage of him like that, as a teenager. They essentially prevented him from finishing school, growing up and learning the importance of truth and honesty, and how to make and keep good friends to talk to that you don’t have to keep secrets from. L. Ron Hubbard seemed to think it was perfectly OK to treat children like this, to make them Sea Org Members, and give them “confidential” work to do when they should be out making friends, doing things that they can openly talk to others about, so that they can improve their communication skills. Instead my brother was taught how very very important it was to lie to people.
I hope I never have a friend like Ron.
Mike / Louise,
In your years on Apollo, was it the case (this is my understanding) that AVC/AVU (which was in the LRH Personal Office, just like the SO #1 Unit personnel were also a sub unit in the LRH Personnel Office) but that AVC/AVU would sidecheck the outgoing LRH letters answers in “some cases?”
Or did AVC/AVU not screen the outgoing LRH SO #1 Unit letter answers in any way?
Mike, and Louise too,
Another fine point, but my understanding, was the the “hat” of the SO #1 Unit basically had to dissolve, and LRH accepted the solution which was transfer much of the “hat” to ED Int’s office, and the revised ED Int issue, even includes some mention of this “line to ED Int” and I think a seperate “line” was established.
I do wish we knew what exactly LRH approved, but he didn’t himself approve but just left it go, another one of the final major problems I never saw (and on the admin research project I was on in 1983, I don’t recall reading a specificy LRH advice on how to let the SO #1 Unit come to a gradual end, which it just had to do).
The almost one year time slot when LRH was literally “off the lines” and had no sent down any traffic, which was that stretch 1980 to 1981, caused a lot of unresolved problems.
SO #1 Unit’s continued existence was a rather big problem.
Lynn Visk, my understanding, is who raised the ruckus, and she and Rena I think are the ones pushing for adding their initials to the LRH signature line, to show which SO #1 Unit person answered which letter, LOL.
I wish Rena or Lynn would be dug up to answer their travails, LOL.
There ought to be a history of the personnel whoever worked in SO #1.
Lynn Visk I think is the one who caused the 1982 ruckus. I was on a Comm Ev for someone else, Lynn was chairman, I was secretary, and she was strongly opinionated, and having been in SO #1 by answering the letters per the Hubbard policies that SO #1 letter answerers had to follow precisely, namely follow policy to the letter and be like LRH in one’s answers to everyone writing, Lynn was adamant on things.
Rena Hilton (Ethiere) also was a last in SO #1 in those early 1980s also.
Hank Billings of course was there for years too.
Ray Peck too.
But I believe it was Lynn, with the support of others who agreed with her, who pushed that issue that the signature of LRH’s ought to have some also identifying initials around 1981, when Flag Clearwater Apollo vets like Lynn were irate when they learned LRH was truly “off the lines” and hadn’t sent down any traffic in that almost year long stretch when in 1980-1981, LRH was truly literally off the lines and not in comm with “top management” for that stretch.
The SO #1 traffic answers just stacked up and LRH didn’t even attend to the answers going back to followers who’d written, even after SO #1 letter answers in the SO #1 Unit had do their duty and answered the followers’ letters, but their answers did go to LRH, for the perfunctory just LRH “approved” glance that LRH truly neglected to even do to the letters, relying solely on the SO #1 Unit’s work/answers.
SO, for sure, the decline, and then the dissolution of SO #1 transitioned into what was supposed to be now ED Int’s Office job, part of ED Int’s duties, taking over LRH’s ED International hat.
I remember, because I was a Flag admin training course personnel, sup and word clearer, all through the management transition era from 1977 until I went on the “routing forms” project in 1983, I had to do the “High Crime” checkouts on EVERY LRH issue type that came out, that whole time slot, which means intense study to get the Cramming Unit’s “okay” on my High Crimes (the quizzing that you get to ensure you really get EVERY latest LRH order into the admin part of the movement).
It’s tedious, truly tedious, to explain this to uninterested outsiders to how intensely detailed LRH wrote things for the various parts of the Scientology administrative bureacracy, he knew what he wanted in every writing, and spelled it out. You had to jigsaw puzzle see how it all fit together, and there were, as always, sometimes problems he himself neglected to resolve. He was in effect committing his own “High Crimes” of committing a solution which is in fact a solution, which is one of his High Crimes in admin.
When he rushed off, away, from the personnel in the old LRH Personnel Office, their duties, and SO #1 Unit was absolutely part of the old LRH Personnel Office, and as ASI formed and took over “legally” many or most of the key, to LRH they were key, to keep money going to him legally, and having people do his bidding, as the ASI staff are instructed in the ASI advices to do, then sub units like SO #1 were not put into ASI, since this crosses the line to some degree. The “hat” of followers, Scientologists, writing to LRH for that connection to him, it’s more of an allegiance or follower loyalty thing, to write to LRH and believe as a follower LRH cares about you, a connection feature of Scientology, even if it was a fiction.
ED Int was given the “hat” of connection, and to some degree, wasn’t it Gail Leeke (sp?) and another woman who wore that sort of “SO #1” aspect hat that was for the Scientology followers, transferred to ED Int’s Office around 1981-1982.
I think for that short time in 1980-1981 the people around LRH, the “gang of five” type of people, could add more to the SO #1 Unit’s personnel, like Lynn Visk’s, valid gripes that they were NOT in fact doing what LRH had in prior years at least been able to more competently put up the charade of the “old” SO #1 Unit’s purpose (connection to the followers, personal caring type of thing for the individual follower’s progress up the stepladder “Bridge” and their life).
Anyways, SO #1 was doomed once LRH’s final years life fell apart, he went into isolation for his own “security” (dodging being drawn into suits against him or Scientology).
It’s just in fact another of the impossible bureaucratic followership administrative units that had to come to an end.
Lynn Visk, she was to me a good one to listen to, she strongly made some great arguments, but the way LRH wished things to be, just could not last, and I don’t think Lynn’s “solutions” with putting their individual SO #1 letter answerers’ initials next to the LRH signature line, was good.
SO #1 had to come to an end, and LRH didn’t have a solution, other than either his, or someone else’s suggestion that ED Int Office take over that “hat.”
The personalized “line” to LRH for connection/loyalty/sharing/caring, just had to come to and end.
admin training personnel, Flag Clearwater, 1977 til 1983
and then I was in Sea Org, RPF, ASI, INCOMM, back in supping in Int Training Org, etc, til I RPFed out in March of 2003.
I can’t post pics here but I have a letter from him dated sometime in 1981 when I lived on Foutain Ave across the street from Big Blue. My parents were in the Sea Org at the time and as a 5 year old, we were forced to write to Ron. We all got a letter back but I’m not fully convinced that he was the one who typed them out to us
Janis Grady’s books, if you buy on Kindle, you can search those books for all Janis’ excellent description of the LRH Sea Org Number # 1 (SO #1 Line) exact procedures.
LRH perfunctorily “sidechecked” he for certain in your years of answers from him, had SO #1 Unit letter answerers answer and write those letters to you and everyone else.
ON the Apollo, for a few years, there was a “line” from Apollo staff to do daily reports to LRH to keep him abreast of things, and he sometimes legtimately actually answered his Apollo years staffs’ daily reports to him.
Janis Grady’s books give incredible depth to ALL of LRH’s policies and the evolving of how things LRH wished to occur around LRH.
It is tedious to lay it all out, but you are right.
You very likely had your letter answered by one of the following:
Hank Billings (he’d be my pick, he was the “best” of them all)
Today, these people, those alive willing to tell what happened in their letter answering for LRH, they followed LRH’s rules for it all, but Hank was the best and most prolific of them all ever in the SO #1 Unit.
ex Flag Clearwater admin training department dilligent “woden headed” staffer 1977 til 1983
Fred G. Haseney says
This is a “P.S.” to be added to what I posted here earlier regarding the now debunked “S.O. #1 Line”:
I wrote to L. Ron Hubbard a number of times, from, roughly, 1977 (the year I got into Scientology) to 1986 (the year Hubbard died). I held onto his letters, too. They were among the possessions I considered “treasures.”
Once, something inspired me to write a short story. I sent it to Hubbard, and I’ll never forget his response: “You have a flair for the dramatic.” That meant a lot for this writer to have received such praise from that writer.
Now I know it never happened. He duped me and never read or responded to any of my letters. I always thought that he meant well and cared. I certainly cared for him. For him? No. Just his image.
Scientology has never stopped duping mankind. Mankind, get wise.
Most likely Hank Billings wrote you that.
Hank was truly gifted, he was I think ex NASA or some US government credible position in life, he knew life well, and knew best how to answer for LRH.
Other SO #1 Unit people were
Rena Hilton Ethiere
The “best” letters people loved getting were one Hank most likely wrote, he was the best in SO #1 Unit’s history, my opinion.
LRH when he did write or truly edit any SO #1 letters, they will have been collected up by the CST/Archives project, for for FUTURE serious researchers, the CST/Archives where all the LRH touched/edited/written output from LRH is kept and preserved for “eternity” (long future) that would be the ultimate and necessary destination to sort out “LRH’s original” content/output and put to rest all questions of who authored what, in LRH’s signature.
BUT, saying that, there is even with CST/Archives personnel, I believe, a lack of judgement that old Apollo vet vintage people who were in the LRH Personnel Office in the final decade of LRH’s administrative oversight of the movement, we need really a serious researcher nerd who is willing and interested and good enough, to interview the Apollo vets ever close to the LRH Pers Office staff jobs or their spouses, or Apollo vets in the know of things.
Anways, Hank Billings, my guess, wrote your kind caring answers, Hank is/was a really nice smart person.
ex Flag Clearwater early era (Dec 1975 until Jun 1983) era “fly on the wall” Admin Training Course Rooms staffer (then years going forward 1983 til 1985ish, on the “routing forms” research and implemenation projects), later in INCOMM (computer branch) and later still in ASI (which took over in my opinion, most of the LRH Pers Office duties totally for LRH the private individual). Ending with the RPF before routing out, LOL.
I used to answer people’s private questions, if they wished, with my opinion of behind the scenes structures and why things went the way they did, if you wish to call me, leave a message, or text me, 412-260-1170.
Janis Grady’s books, get them on Kindle, and you can search within those books then, and get massive amounts of fine insider questions answered there, for why things went the way they did.
Fred Haseney says
Thank you, Chuck. Having names of those who worked in the SO #1 Unit makes all of this so much more real. I wonder what they did when Hubbard kicked the bucket? How does one add “SO #1 Unit” to a resume?
The deceit in Scientology is unreal and grows by leaps and bounds daily.
Peter Moon (his writer name) used to work in SO #1 Unit and says a lot of inside very important info.
He’s interviewed here, and it truly worth it to listen to Peter, and you can contact him on Facebook, you’ve probably stumbled upon him already for years, he has posted for over a decade.
SO #1 Unit was in the “LRH Personal Office” which was LRH’s Office, a quite big entourage of the most faithful and it included the CMO and included Ken Urquhart, and a whole bunch of people, the old Admin Dictionary gives a lot of their posts. It included the LRH Accounts lady, Vicki Polimeni/Livingston, she did LRH’s banking, LOL, this LRH Personal Office is what did a lot of LRH’s personal stuff that the IRS considered “inurement” and for which Scientology was not going to get tax exemption with that old setup.
Thus, the LRH Personal Office had to split up, in order to gain tax exemption. CMO Int became under COS, and LRH’s personal matters, that went into Author Services Int. LRH Household Unit went into CMO Gold, etc, etc, all splitting of the duties into COS and ASI, and also, the people who worked in “MSH’s Office” they attended to MSH to the end of her life, even though Miscavige and her did not get along.
There is so much to the two “offices” the LRH Office and the MSH Office.
Peter Moon’s excellent interview and get him talking on Outer Banks if you want also.
Much worth hearing!
Fred Haseney says
Thank you, Chuck, for your keen insight, observation and information. I have that Peter Moon interview ready to play–thanks!
You write an incredibly important comment, which a future researcher would cite in their papers about how the followership of Scientology saw things.
I hope you too write a book summarizing your conclusions.
Fred Haseney says
Thank you for that, Chuck. I learned a new word today: “followership.”
Jere Lull says
Some of us HAVE “gotten wise”, and are gone for good.
‘Tweern’t much good IN scientology, so experiencing “good” once we disconnected from that suppression was a REVELATION.
Fred G. Haseney says
Thank you, Mike, for debunking the SO #1 Line. You took the matter farther than I’d heard before. Now I know Hubbard regarded my comm, the communication from a Scientologist in Good Standing at the time, as nothing more than a means of detection. It truly shows just how little Hubbard cared for his public. We were nothing more than Bodies in the Shop. Little did I know that Hubbard did really bad things which saw him on the lam as his wife went to prison in, more or less, his place. Why his crimes against the U.S. government never became a reason to shut Scientology down I’ll never understand.
Angry Gay Pope says
At the point he was in hiding his fingernails were probably too long to open a letter anyway! I’m told he ended up looking like a homeless person/howard hughes at the end.
Non sequitur – but I listened to the Fair Game podcast and heard your call for Scientology to lose their tax-exempt status. I have often thought that the rule that religious non-profits don’t have to file a Form 990 should be removed, and ALL non-profits should have to file. Those forms are open to the public, and don’t have a ton of info. But they list at least 3 numbers – gross donations, and overhead and programs expenditure – AND the top 5 salaries in the organization. Curious on guesses whom 2-5 would be for CoS, and how much? How steep is the dropoff from #1?
Anyway, I’m just a peon and can’t do much, but I’m from FL and support the civic fight against them.
I think the SO#1 letters may have been signed with a pantograph or Autopen type device.
Not available pre 1984.
The SO#1 CMO unit had specific cadets trained to sign Hubbard’s “Ron”.
Ms. B. Haven says
I can vouch for the fact that the SO #1 line was used for detection. I had a friend “write to Ron” around ’82 – the mission massacre era. She was very concerned about what was going down and especially the
‘International Finance Police’ showing up, throwing their weight around with extremely ‘heavy ethics’ and generally just intimidating everyone they could. The letter she got back was as described, “good roads and good weather”. But the reality of the situation was that things did not go well for her. Not well at all. I believe that this is the era that ushered in ‘gang bang sec checks’…
Meaningless Trivia ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
Ken Urquhart, LRH’s butler, confidant and Class 9, chatted informally during a 2009
speaking engagement in Moscow with the indie field. From an audio recording:
“I once asked LRH on the ship, how many OT levels he had researched.
And he said, I think it was 86. That was in, ahhh, early seventies.”
Ken was field auditing in 2009 and promoting his services among the Russki indies.
Hubbard was bragging and false promising of the “upper” levels to still come, to the bitter end.
Mat Pesch says
He was definitely “not officially classified”. I wonder if he ever licked one of those poisonous frogs while he was eating all those pink pills.
Louise Shekter says
A+ for debunking.
Remember Hank Billings and Lynn Visk?
Wasn’t Hank the premiere SO #1 letter answerer for LRH for all time, he is in my opinion.
Louise Shekter says
A+ for debunking. The SO #1 office was next to my own office on the Apollo.
Ines Park worked in the SO#1 Unit for at least a decade. She told me she wrote many, many “letters from Ron”. I think she also got pretty good at forging his signature.
Overrun in California says
No need to forge….it was a stamped signature. At least for most of the time.
Wow, I didn’t know that was the case. Did you work in one of the SO#1 Units too? Inez was a Flag
Overrun in California says
No, but I wrote to Ron a lot back in the 70’s. All of Ron’s signatures are exactly the same, stamped out with a green stamp.
Dead Man Talking Bill Straass says
I had several letters from Ron that were clearly not stamped but signed by a ball-point pen. After 82 all the signatures were identical and clearly stamped.
Thanks for that info Bill.
I got letters on my birthdays during my years in the SO. The signatures (by both Ron and Mary Sue) looked real as that was pre 1982. Course after Ron when into hiding and Mary Sue went to prison the letters ceased coming. Also makes sense any further ones would be “stamp signed”. Ah, life in the cult. Always interesting.
Were you on the Apollo just before Daytona.
Don Strom one time (at Clearwater Flag in 1976) was pissed that the old pre Flag Clearwater stretch, back before Daytona too, Don said he’d written once or twice some LRH daily report notes, and gotten legit LRH initialed or one word “thanks” type answers.
In Janis Grady’s books, I think she might even mention that tiny stretch of time LRH did write with his pens, all their colors, red, green, black/blue for the zone to which his answers or writings would be later filed or issued as issues.
Anyways, I’m pretty sure that ALL of the SO #1 answers were just Hank Billings’ work, he was the best ever in SO #1 Unit in my opinion. Later when I wrote some “tough” letters to LRH myself, in 1976, later I found out Hank was the one who gave me the answer, which I put in the Admin Training course room “card file” (remember the “Hard to Find” card files for trainees at Flag Clearwater)?
I asked LRH to define a word he’d used in one of his books, which wasn’t in the dictionary, LOL, and Hank eventually gave the answer, and even that one, I don’t think LRH approved or saw that letter from Hank, but later in word clearing history, that LRH answered jockeyed back and forth from being included in the glossary to that particular training course, and later appeared in the glossary of the book where LRH used that word, it was “Tah” which Ithink means a spirit.
Anways, “important” SO #1 answers, if indeed LRH ever approved/saw or himself annotated those answers, they will be in CST/Archives today.
Which is why it is truly so important for definitive experts of Scientology to either get to Archives, see the vast sub compartenting of the “LRH originals” they have, and really, there is just NO such expert qualified person who is today willing to do this type of research, nor the problem of not being allowed access to CST/Archives “LRH originals” which do exist.
NO one gets to see them, and answer everyone’s questions definitively.
My 100% bet is that all LRH “letters” people got, from Daytona on, LRH didn’t even for a minute give perfunctory attention even pretend to read the answers which the SO #1 Unit letter answerers proposed and which got sent to followers.
Again, Don Strom did tell me that on the Apollo, some staff who wrote their “Daily Reports” to LRH, did get short one word answers, mostly “thankyous” from LRH.
And those seemed “real.”
ex Flag Clearwater admin course rooms staffer (sometimes in Tech course rooms) from Dec 1975 til Jun 1983, and I kept my course sup “High Crimes” up to date, and was familiar with all of the tough “hard to find” words and things that trainees and staff trainees ran into (then to now)
Final years SO #1 Unit personnel were:
Rena Hilton Ethiere